ARCHIVED - Air Canada 2007-2008

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  Report Card 2007–2008
Air Canada

Factors and Criteria

Summary of Substantiating Data


Management (15%)

(a) An accountability framework, an action plan and accountability mechanisms are in place (5%)

Air Canada does not have an accountability framework for official languages (OL). However, since 2001, it has an action plan that includes objectives to be completed with deadlines and that indicates the sectors responsible for parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (the Act). However, the mechanisms for coordination between the key stakeholders are not specified. The objective of the action plan is to supplement Air Canada’s existing policy and guidelines and to refocus it, given the evolving circumstances the Corporation faced at the time when it acquired Canadian Airlines. The updated action plan, countersigned by the members of senior management in February 2007, constitutes for Air Canada clients and its personnel a clear commitment to satisfying their expectations in terms of services and communications in the official language of their choice. The plan is a public document and it is posted on the Corporation’s Internet and intranet sites.

There are various accountability mechanisms. For example, the Linguistic Affairs Division issues quarterly reports to those responsible for each directorate (e.g. Airports, In-flight Service, call centres) and their local manager. This report paints a picture of the language capacity, the language tests administered during the quarter and those to come. It also includes a summary of complaints. A report summarizing the number and status of bilingual employees is also sent to the Executive Vice President, Customer Experience as well as to the Champion and Co-champion of official languages. Periodic discussions on various points of the Action Plan take place at senior management meetings and OL are regular items on the agenda. The Champion and the Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, who sit on the Executive Committee, meet with Language Services when necessary to discuss certain points of the Action Plan and other aspects of official languages.

Air Canada must submit an annual report to the Official Languages Directorate (OLD) of the Canada Public Service Agency (CPSA) on its activities, accomplishments and projects pertaining to official languages, services to the public, language of work, equitable participation and the Corporation’s involvement in official language minority communities (OLMC).

Lastly, it also reports to the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages, if needed.

Over the years, several members of Air Canada’s senior management have expressed their commitment to official languages during various private meetings with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and its senior managers in order to examine problems and changes in situations, as well as with the federal minister responsible for OL and the members of the Standing Joint Committee on OL.


(b) Visibility of official languages in the organization (5%)

The 2004 and 2005 annual reports mentioned the Corporation’s commitment to OL.

OL are not included in internal audit activities. However, Air Canada is committed to measuring the progress made on official languages in 2008–2009. OL are periodically discussed by the Executive Committee.

The Champion, who is at the vice president level, and the Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, sit on the Executive Committee. The Linguistic Affairs Division is headed by a general service manager, who reports to the Employee Relations and Corporate Affairs branches, who is responsible for communicating and monitoring the application of the Act and the Corporation’s language regulations. Each branch appoints a manager, usually at the director level, who is responsible for language issues and whose mandate is to ensure that the objectives set by his/her branch are respected. The manager responsible for language issues oversees the delivery of quality bilingual services to both clients and employees; he/she is also the contact person between the branch and language services.

There are also language coordinators in the six In-flight Service bases, the eight major airports, the four call centres, which are responsible for coordinating tests and language training. However, there is no mechanism allowing for discussions on objectives in terms of service to the public, language of work, equitable participation and the promotion of French and English.


(c) Complaints and follow-up (5%)

The Corporation has a mechanism for processing and resolving complaints submitted to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL).

After receiving an OL complaint, the Service Manager, Official Languages and Diversity, sends a copy to the service manager in question, who with the assistance of Language Services takes care of investigating the matter and determining the applicable corrective measures, and conducting the necessary follow-up with the employees involved in the complaint. When one or more employees are involved, a reminder of the language policies and requirements is issued to prevent the reoccurrence of similar situations. Quarterly statistical or narrative reports inform senior management of the nature of the complaints received, the actions taken and the measures or actions to be taken, if applicable, to remedy the problems. Meetings with those responsible for the various services take place as needed to discuss situations that are more difficult to resolve and possible solutions. As for complaints stemming from in-flight service, the performance manager receives the complaint and reviews it together with the employee who committed the infraction. Afterwards, a letter is sent to the employee reminding him/her of the Corporation’s language obligations and to encourage him/her to enrol in the workshop “One Moment Please”, designed to help employees who are not qualified in French to manage situations where they must offer service to clients who want to be served in French. The course educates employees on how to make an active offer and helps them recognize the words most used in order offer a minimum service. It teaches them to ask for help from a bilingual colleague and to understand that they must never ask a client to speak in the other official language. A copy of the letter is sent to the employee and filed in their personnel record.

Under Air Canada’s Memorandum of Agreement on Ground Services at Airports, a senior manager from the Airports Branch is designated to hold discussions with the union for the implementation of the Memorandum.

A specific problem with compliance with the Act was brought to light through the submitting of complaints and is described at the end of the section on service to the public.




Service to the public—Part IV (25%) 

(a) Bilingual services advertised to the public and sufficient bilingual staff (3%)

Air Canada’s services are listed in both OL in the white pages of telephone directories and in Burolis.

The Internet site is completely bilingual. The availability of services in both OL is clearly posted.

The Corporation reports that, by definition, all positions where there is contact with the public are bilingual, but it cannot be expected that all employees be bilingual. The current priority is to recruit 100% bilingual agents; however, Air Canada still has to hire unilingual people or people who speak other languages, due to a lack of bilingual candidates.

Air Canada advertises employment opportunities in local newspapers and OLMC broadcast media in order to recruit bilingual candidates.

In total, 41% of employees in bilingual positions serving the public meet the language requirements of their position (Source: AC quarterly report, September 2007).

The Corporation indicated that it is very difficult to determine the number of bilingual employees that would be needed at each airport and on each airplane to offer service in both OL, since demand and operations vary greatly. 


(b) Observations on active offer and service delivery (15%)

According to observations of in-person service made by OCOL between mid-June and mid-July 2007, a visual active offer was present in 84% of cases; an active offer by staff was made in 8% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 55% of cases.

According to observations of service on the telephone made by OCOL between mid-June and mid-July 2007, an active offer by staff or by an automated system was made in 60% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 90% of cases.


(c) Service agreements delivered by third parties or in partnership provide for the delivery of bilingual services (2%)

Service agreements, including the agreement with Air Canada Jazz, contain language clauses. In these agreements, it is stipulated that third parties must respect language obligations in places where the Corporation has obligations.

Services delivered by third parties are subject to certain control measures. For example, teachers who offer language training to Air Canada Jazz employees must fill out an attendance sheet of employees who participated in the training sessions. In addition, the employees who take training courses are evaluated based on Air Canada language criteria.

In addition, as a main client, Air Canada Jazz provides, on a quarterly basis, data on the percentage of bilingual employees, the hiring of new employees, etc.


(d) Policy on service to the public and bilingual services quality monitoring (5%)

Since December 1983, the Corporation has an OL policy titled Air Canada Language Policy and Guidelines, which sets the requirements for communications and the delivery of bilingual services. It was approved by senior management and Legal Services. All employees can consult the policy on the intranet site.

All new employees are given a welcome kit that includes the code of ethics, the major policies and a document on the delivery of bilingual services to the public.

Since January 2007, training on non-technical skills, focused on customer service, is mandatory for all airport employees and includes a language component. Moreover, in 2007, training was given to some 3,000 Air Canada employees. A second training course on non-technical skills has been offered to employees since September 2007, focusing particularly on cultural differences (respecting and listening to others).

For two years now, Air Canada has been offering training on active offer and service in both OL. The workshop, titled “One Moment Please” is offered on a regular basis in several cities across the country. In 2007, the Corporation reported that 85 employees had taken the workshop, as well as 627 new flight attendants, who were not qualified in French and who participated in the workshop as part of their initial training. Participation in the workshop is voluntary; however, employees who are the subject of a language complaint are strongly urged to take this training.

The Corporation uses all current means of communication with its personnel to inform them of their OL responsibilities, the language initiatives and successes as well as the results in terms of performance. For example, the intranet site, which publishes “The Daily,” a daily bulletin sent to all employees, publishes language data, the results of surveys on customer satisfaction as well as the promotion of bilingualism within Air Canada.

In 2006, airport and in-flight services employees who have contact with the general public were given the “Aerovocab”, a lexicon for which the online version is also accessible to all employees on the Corporation’s intranet site.

Flight attendants also receive a monthly information bulletin called “Go!” which promotes OL through a regular feature.

The “Quality Assurance” service is responsible for the quality of services offered to the public and the announcements presented in both OL in airports. Using an evaluation grid and the “mystery client” approach, this service checks whether announcements (e.g. boarding times) respect the Corporation’s language requirements. 

Using an independent firm, Air Canada also conducts telephone surveys to determine the satisfaction rate of clients in terms of service and bilingual announcements in airports and aboard airplanes. In compliance with the regulations of the Act, these surveys, focused on the significant demand for bilingual service on Air Canada flights, are conducted every 10 years and the results are posted on the Corporation’s intranet site.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages, the Corporation informs clients of their language rights and invites them to provide their comments. This way, clients who want to provide feedback can find the electronic address in the magazine enRoute, on the comments card (placed on each seat of its aircraft) as well as on the Corporation’s Internet site.

The Internet home page, as well as the announcements made by flight attendants before takeoff, remind clients of Air Canada’s commitment to offering services in both official languages.


Specific problem

Air Canada is facing a particular problem in regards to active offer and the delivery of bilingual services on the ground, in airports and on flights.



  D **

Language of work—
Part V (25%)

(a) Language of work policy and adequate bilingual supervision (12.5%)

Since December 1983, the Corporation has an OL policy titled Air Canada Language Policy and Guidelines, which establishes the requirements pertaining to language of work. It is supported by directives on language of service, supervision, working tools, communications, administration and services to personnel. It was approved by senior management and Legal Services. The policy is accessible to all employees through the intranet site.

All general written communications from all levels of the organization are issued in both OL. Air Canada has a record of the language of preference of employees so they can receive any communication in the OL of their choice.

On the corporate intranet site, employees have access to the AviaTerm database, a terminology database that includes thousands of specialized terms from the aviation field, and from Air Canada in particular.

OL are the subject of a presentation during the initial training course given to all flight attendants. In addition, the general training programs for personnel in contact with the public are offered in both OL. In 2007, as is the case each year, the language training team held an “Open House” called the “French Café” in order to promote various language courses offered and how they can make the work of employees easier. The sessions were presented to employees working at airports, call centres and In-Flight services located in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax.

The Corporation developed a form (language profile) to collect language data when the employee is hired. In 2000–2001, it was distributed to all former employees at Canadian in order to collect their language information, and it continues to be completed by all new employees.

The Corporation has a language test follow-up system to ensure the regular re-evaluation of language skills and to maintain quality bilingual services (current performance of 2,000 tests per year). Every quarter, the language coordinators receive their respective lists of employees to be tested.

For over 30 years, the Corporation has had its own language school that offers its personnel training programs that are particularly adapted to Air Canada.

Since 2002, it has used a translation service that provides emergency translations 24/7.

A total of 74% of supervisors in bilingual regions who must supervise their employees in both OL are able to do so. (Source: Data taken from the OL Report, Official Languages Information System II (OLIS II), March 31, 2007)


(b) Use of each official language in the workplace (12.5%)

Through the “Manager’s Corner” accessible on the Corporation’s intranet site, managers are reminded of their obligation to create an environment that is conducive to the use of both OL, in compliance with the language of work policy. Employees are reminded at staff meetings that they can participate in the OL of their choice. A bilingual person will answer employee questions when the meeting chair is unilingual.

The welcome kit given to all new employees, reminds them of their language rights and obligations. This kit includes the code of ethics and the major policies, including the one on language of work.

Executive Committee meetings take place mostly in English, but the General Annual Assembly takes place in both official languages.

On an ongoing basis, Air Canada analyzes the language requirements of the positions that become vacant.

The language data collected from the language profile are kept in the Corporation’s human resources database. This data makes it possible to measure the equitable participation and to establish the composition of the labour force in order to reflect the presence of both official language communities.

The Information Technology Branch checks for the availability of current computer tools in both OL when conducting acquisitions and systematically offers these tools as well as training in one of the two languages. It also makes sure that all documents belonging to Air Canada are published in both OL on its intranet site.

The survey conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of OCOL showed that overall, 39% of Francophone respondents in the NCR, New Brunswick and bilingual regions of Ontario "strongly agreed" or "mostly agreed" with the language of work regime. In Quebec, 95% of Anglophone respondents “strongly agreed" or "mostly agreed" with the language of work regime.




Equitable participation—Part VI (10%)

(a) Percentage of Francophone participation throughout Canada (5%)

Overall, the workforce is 17.2% Francophone. (Source: OLIS II, March 31, 2007)


(b) Percentage of Anglophone participation in Quebec (5%)

In Quebec, the workforce is 46.6% Anglophone. (Source: OLIS II, March 31, 2007)




Development of official language minority communities and promotion of linguistic duality—Part VII (25%)

There is no permanent formal mechanism in place for strategic planning, policy development and program development to take into account the requirement to promote the development of official language minority communities (OLMC) and to promote linguistic duality.

Members of senior management, notably the Executive Vice President, Customer Experience and the Vice President and General Legal Advisor, who is also the OL Champion, as well as the Director, Provincial Government and Community Relations (senior executive), were made aware of the obligations stemming from amendments to the Act and the obligation to take positive measures. A manager reporting to the Director, Provincial Government and Community Relations, has the sole responsibility of travelling around the country and meeting with communities to listen to their needs. The meetings are organized mainly by chambers of commerce, the mayors of various municipalities and representatives from provincial governments. In 2007, these connections with communities made the addition of a flight between Bathurst and Ottawa possible.

For the moment, there is no committee for the implementation of Part VII, but the Corporation is committed to developing one in 2008.


(a) Development of official language minority communities (12.5%)

The Corporation has not begun to examine the various programs and policies to determine those likely to having an impact on the OLMCs. However, in order to better respect the mission, values and vision of the Corporation for 2008, the Corporation has agreed to work closely with clients and the community to determine, in its daily actions, the impact of its policies and programs on OLMCs.

As well, Air Canada has not yet begun to develop an action plan aimed at the development of OLMCs.

The marketing strategy is in part organized based on the promotion of linguistic communities in Canada, ensuring support to various major events across the country that benefit OLMCs. Other than meetings stemming from its relations with OLMCs, the Corporation does not directly consult them regarding their needs. The Corporation, in recognition of its deficiencies in language of service and with the knowledge that OLMCs are dissatisfied with services in French, has established contacts with certain organizations to obtain their assistance and possibility facilitate the hiring of bilingual personnel since the main reason for the deficiencies in bilingual services is the shortage of bilingual personnel.

Also, all communities interested in obtaining funding from Air Canada, including the OLMCs, must submit a sponsorship request through the Corporation’s Internet site.

In 2007, the Corporation sponsored several activities pertaining to the development of OLMCs, including the Festival du voyageur in Winnipeg, the Festival franco-ontarien in Ottawa and the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie.


(b) Promotion of linguistic duality (12.5%)

Air Canada has not initiated a process for the development of an action plan aimed specifically at promoting linguistic duality.

However, it has already begun to identify the organizations and associations with which it plans to establish connections.

The Corporation is taking positive measures to promote the equal status of French and English in society as a participant at the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie and in significant cultural events, including at least one OLMC event per region. For example, in 2007, it participated in the Rassemblement Jeunesse francophone in Alberta, which brought together all the French-language high schools in that province, and in Journée carrières in Halifax. The purpose of this event was to educate young people on the benefits of learning both official languages and to expose them to various employment possibilities within the Corporation. Air Canada, in affiliation with the Canada Council for the Arts, sponsors the Grands prix littéraires Radio-Canada, a competition in which winners see their works published in enRoute, the magazine distributed on board Air Canada flights. This magazine, which is read by a large number of passengers, is completely bilingual, contains articles on members of both language groups and contributes to promoting Canada’s bilingual image.

Lastly, in 2007, Air Canada implemented multidisciplinary teams to discuss the needs associated with the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. An initial meeting took place on November 5, 2007, between In-flight Service, Airports, Corporate Communications, Language Services and athletes to discuss the transportation needs of athletes. Other discussions will be held over the next few months to discuss official languages, service to the public and training needs.